If nothing’s wrong with your print and mail operation, why should you change it? We’ve all probably suffered through painful experiences when attempts to improve a process resulted in disruptions and unanticipated problems that weren’t worth a small benefit increase. Hesitation about making “enhancements” are understandable.

But the old adage “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” doesn’t apply anymore. With rapidly changing technology and evolving customer expectations, doing nothing has a price. For companies in the print and mail service business, the price is customer abandonment and shrinking profit margins.

Our industry has always emphasized efficiencies and cost reductions. Print/mail service providers create printed and digital communications and get them into the hands of our clients’ customers or prospects more quickly and less expensively than our clients can do for themselves. That aspect of the business is still important, but cost reduction is a benefit nearly all service providers can deliver. To compete, leaders in the document service business must watch evolving trends and be ready to transform.

It’s time to consider the top line effects of innovation and upgrades. How can an investment today open new markets or expand the client relationships necessary for tomorrow’s success?

Risk of Falling Behind

Complacency about the approach to customer communications can cause serious problems for print/mail service providers when markets, regulations, or technology changes force them to react. An old system maintained “because it still works” might be difficult to upgrade when an organization must respond to new privacy laws or changing postal regulations, for example.

Switching to more contemporary processing methods before outside influences force a change can reduce the time and cost to respond to the triggering event. Compare a ten-year-old on-premise software product to newer cloud-based solutions. A company with old technology may find it impossible to build new functionality in time to meet the needs, especially if original software vendors no longer support the products. Had the company switched before the need, their cloud software supplier might automatically update their product to comply with upcoming regulations.

Innovation Opportunities

Here are some areas where upgrading might allow print/mail service providers to attract new clients or expand relationships with existing customers.

Multi-Channel Communications–If document service providers can’t offer capabilities in this area, they are behind the times. An easy place to start would be Informed Delivery with the US Postal Service.

Variable Data Envelope Printing–Adding data-driven inkjet print heads to mail inserting equipment allows mailers to get the attention of mail recipients with colorful graphics and relevant messaging. Increase the open rates and improve client campaign results.

Augmented Reality–AR has lots of possibilities for transforming printed materials into engaging experiences. Learn about this technology and brainstorm with clients about how adding AR elements triggered by printed materials can help clients achieve their desired results.

Mail Piece Tracking–Tracking mail pieces throughout the production process gives clients assurances their vendor handled all their communications correctly. Tracking data compiled after the material leaves the production facility gives clients insight into important aspects like in-home dates and cash flow as their mail proceeds through the USPS delivery network.

Post Composition Re-engineering–Add value like color, graphics, and data-driven messaging to transactional documents without requiring clients to update their software. Besides targeted marketing, document re-engineering allows print/mail service providers to solve business problems for their clients. Re-engineering can reduce calls to customer service, for example, by communicating information more clearly on bills and statements.

Data Enhancement–Match and combine client data sources to create more accurate customer profiles. This allows document service providers to compose relevant communications that reflect each mail recipient’s relationship with the client. Reduce waste and improve campaign performance by accurately connecting customers with relevant offers.

Postal mail’s role in customer communications has changed, and attracting clients with promises of cost savings is no longer enough. Print/mail service providers must show clients how modern communication strategies, of which mail is a part, can solve their business challenges. Updated production workflows can create opportunities previously unrecognized. Doing nothing limits a service provider’s ability to compete.

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps document operations build and implement strategies for future growth and competitiveness. Learn more about his services at www.printmailconsultants.com and www.pmccontentservices.com. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.